SRE Network Responds to the Release of URJ Ethics Report
February 17, 2022 — SRE Network, in response to today’s release of the Ethics Report by the Union of Reform Judaism (URJ), expressed serious concern about the findings of sexual misconduct in its youth programs and workplaces, honored the individuals who came forward to share their difficult experiences as part of the investigation, and commended URJ for making the report and its recommendations public.
In response to the report’s release, Elana Wien, Executive Director of the SRE Network stated, “Our hope is that this report, along with the CCAR and HUC-JIR reports, set a benchmark of reporting and response throughout the Jewish community.” She went on to say, “Let us not forget that our Jewish community is deeply interconnected and interwoven. We have a shared responsibility to ensure that each of us are taking steps in our own capacities and roles to ensure a safer, more respectful and equitable future for all.”
This report is the third in a series of investigative reports from the Reform Movement exposing a history of sexual misconduct in youth-serving spaces, within the rabbinate (CCAR), and at its seminary (HUC-JIR). Together, these investigations reveal a long-term pattern that underscores the need for institutional and communal introspection, teshuvah and action.
The report outlines important recommendations that SRE Network believes all Jewish institutions and communal entities should consider in both rectifying historical instances of abuse and inequity, as well as continuing to support the foundation of a healthy institutional and communal culture:
- Develop and implement clear policies and procedures with greater transparency;
- Increase coordination across organizations to prevent abusers from holding a leadership position before the teshuva period is completed;
- Review and consider whether the teshuvah process adequately meets the needs of individuals and congregations that have been harmed by the misconduct.
SRE Network thanks the 168 individuals who courageously agreed to participate in interviews with the investigators. These are former campers, counselors, and youth group advisors. The Jewish community owes a debt of gratitude for your willingness to share difficult experiences that not only should not have happened, but in many cases, were previously shared and not addressed. Coming forward to tell and retell these stories is deeply painful. Let us collectively honor your bravery by ensuring that tangible steps are taken to ensure progress moving forward, so that these truth telling efforts are not in vain.
SRE Network also commends the URJ for pursuing an investigation of sexual harassment, abuse and misconduct at URJ workplaces, summer camps and programming including through NFTY, its youth group, and making the full report public. While the report describes some serious and upsetting behavior, it also notes the critical steps that movement has taken to improve and update its policies and practices. The commitment to transparency and accountability are an important part of a cultural shift and the process of teshuvah.
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About SRE Network:
SRE Network is a Jewish network of over 150 organizations that is rooted in our shared commitment to safety, respect, and equity-for all. We inspire meaningful change in workplaces and communal spaces by bringing people together to address gender-based harassment, discrimination, and inequity. Our work is focused on building community, research and learning, and strategic community investments, using an intersectional lens of gender justice. To learn more about the SRE Network visit srenetwork.org and view our SRE Network Standards for creating safe, respectful, and equitable Jewish workplaces and communal spaces here: https://srenetwork.org/our-work/standards/.